Therefore, they may press for policies that include efficiency concerns, compensatory provisions, and/or demand considerations. Bureaucratic decision rules do not emerge from a vacuum; they may reflect interactions among administrators, elected officials, and a variety of other actors. 49
The continuing battle over the future of Amtrak naturally has led people in that agency to be concerned with maintaining and building political support. 50 The need for political support apparently has shaped some Amtrak service decisions in the past. 51 Those considerations might well be appropriate for explaining variations in the distribution of Amtrak service.
The preceding analysis indicates that a perspective oriented toward bureaucratic decision rule has considerable merit in explaining Amtrak service availability. Efficiency criteria derived from the transportation literature are quite effective in accounting for the distribution of service. Once the characteristics of the task environment, as indicated by those criteria, are taken into account, political considerations involving nonefficiency criteria play a modest but significant role.
It is true that program variations that appear small from a national perspective may seem substantial from the perspective of an individual state or community. Moreover, the political variables examined here do not include information on members' personal goals or interests. Overall, however, most of the variation in Amtrak service across the country can be explained by long-established indicators of efficiency.